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Finally, in body as in spirit, you two joined each other respectively from Melbourne and Vancouver for a temporary elopement in Zhuhai, where Hua used to work and live before retirement. After almost a whole night of talking and lovemaking, both of you felt totally exhausted and needed a really good sleep, but you had to get up early in the morning, for Hua had an appointment with a dermatologist at 9:30. While you waited in the hospital, she told you that she had given her husband two major reasons for her solo trip back to China this time, one was to see the doctor about the small spot close to her nose bridge, whose treatment was not only more effective but much less costly; the other was to visit her mother who had recently had a bad stroke, thus having lost her mind. Without such strongly “personal” reasons, Hua’s husband would surely have come back together with her to their own home in Zhuhai as they had always done.   

  During the consultation, the dermatologist said that Hua’s skin problem was not so much a health issue as a cosmetic concern. This being so, Hua decided to follow your suggestion and have the spot and other freckles laser-treated at a later time. 

Though you two would rather return to Hua’s apartment immediately after leaving the hospital, she must go to attend a dim sum party scheduled beforehand with her former colleagues. To make sure that none of her family members or friends would grow suspicious about her whereabouts, you had to cancel your honeymoon tour; without a legitimate reason for her to travel all by herself, you could do nothing but try to fill in the blanks unnoticeable in her “official itinerary.”     

After a simple lunch, which was all leftovers from Yueyang Tower, you took a long nap. When Hua returned home earlier than expected, you chatted for a while and then did some housework together. Around five o’clock, you went to One Lotus, her favorite veg buffet restaurant, which was just a few minutes away from her apartment. Among more than thirty veg dishes, steamed okra, black fungus fried with Chinese lettuce, tofu fried with pepper, and millet soup were most inviting to you, but Hua liked sheet jelly, fried noodles and Chinese kale better. While both the service and the atmosphere were first rate, the cost was surprisingly low, only 18 yuan per person. 

“It’s a real steal. How could they possibly make any money here?” you wondered aloud.  

“They gotta have, else they would’ve closed down a long time ago,” Hua answered, trying to keep her distance all the time. While waiting in the queue, she leaned over and warned you in a low voice not to “behave abnormally” there, because the receptionist knew her and her husband well.

Back to her suite after the dinner, you two talked a while about each other’s family relations. Then, you told Hua how you had been worried about every small progress she was taking in the development of your relationship. For example, long before her departure from Melbourne, you had been afraid that she might suddenly withdraw from her emotional commitment and refuse to take the first solid step towards “adultery,” a crime which could lead directly to death during the “Cultural Revolution.” When she told you on July 10th that she had just booked her air ticket, you became both excited and nervous because you were worried that she might change her mind any time before she actually boarded her plane. Since her arrival in Zhuhai, you had been anxious that she could lose a battle against her moral sense and insist on you staying in a hotel rather than in her home for the night. Even after entering her apartment, you became no less apprehensive about the possibility of her putting up some resistance, consciously or otherwise.

 “Are you regretful for each step you’ve taken towards me?” you asked, still with some niggling fears and worries.

“Never after taking a step forward,” she replied thoughtfully, “but I did often hesitate before doing so.”

“You mentioned you’d hated me for up to ten years, but you kept refusing to give me an explanation. Can you tell me the reasons now?”

“No, never. Since we’re already together, there’s no need any more.”

“But I’m so curious. What on earth did I do to make you detest me for so long? Without knowing the truth, I can never finish writing our love story.”

“You’d better stop writing it. It would be too embarrassing anyway!”

As it was getting dark outside, you led Hua to her washroom, where you took a baptistic shower together, washed yourselves as clean as newborn babies, and massaged each other for about ten minutes. You knew that it might sound at least demeaning if not disgusting to Hua, but after walking into her bedroom, with all lights on, you asked her to lie flat on the bed, in her birthday suit, like a guqing [ancient Chinese zither] put on a large table. Before playing on her or practicing what you called kissing meditation, you told her to close her eyes and try to perceive as many sensations as she could while imagining herself floating on a warm and colored cloud in Heaven. With one leg kneeling down on the wooden floor in a ritualistic posture, you first kissed her long hair, one lock after another, which she had been keeping for your sake for the past three years. Then, as slowly as possible, one centimeter after another, you kissed her forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, face, mouth, chin, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, palms, fingers, chest, breasts, abdomen and belly button. Next, you kissed her toes, insteps, ankles, calves and thighs. Noting how she was enjoying this meditative process, you finally concentrated on her most tender and sensitive area, which you found astonishing: thinly haired -- presumably as a result of her two c sections, much less dark than any other woman’s secret garden you had ever seen anywhere, and almost labia-less.      

“Gee! Something very unique, even abnormal here!” you exclaimed. “I’m really today years old to find a woman’s secret garden can be such a great joy to behold!”   

“Are you kidding me?”

“You know your lower face is as good-looking as, if not more than, your upper face?”

“But no doctor has ever mentioned anything about my anomaly!”  

Gazing at her vagina like a connoisseur lost in admiration, you recognized it as a tender and light-colored chrysanthemum blooming fully against night, a miniature Eden of your own. While the long and narrow scar on her belly resembled the stem of the flower, there were no dark and sticky and wrinkled folds of the vulva at the center; instead, only a tiny part of one labia which was apparently larger than the other, could be seen like a bud newly shooting as if from a crevice on a heart-shaped jade, which was vivid, secret pink of the body’s interior, in contrast with your wife’s exterior, whose original color had been weathered a worldly gray. Seeing no labia drooping like a lazy eyelid as you had expected, you could not help burying your face deep in Hua’s pubic hair which had by now stood quite straight like grass after a spring rain; then you paused to smell her love organ for a solid moment. Impulsively, you gave her little bud a light and soft bite, which tasted like a cranberry just perfectly ripe. This was something you had never done before. Even on the first night with your beautiful wife, it never occurred to you to do such a crazy thing. At that time, you were too young to know, or too impatient to enjoy such subtle and exquisite pleasures. By the time you completed this mindful process, Hua told you that you had been kissing her for nearly one hour. What a great feeling of sexual love in meditation! She wondered if you had done similar things to Helen or Yiming. Your answer was a firm negation, for kissing meditation, like walking meditation, was a form of free meditation you had invented for yourself only recently. As you got up from her body, Hua asked you to lie flat on the bed. 

  “Monkey see, monkey do!” she said, chuckling and making a funny face like a teenage girl. Since this was also her first time to do free meditation of any kind, Hua completed the kissing process within ten minutes, during which she acted as if she were conducting a sexual version of sado. As she stopped to bite, lick and suck your hardened penis softly and playfully, she was surprised to see it growing into something beyond her expectation. 

“How come we got a real golden cudgel now?” she asked. 

“All because you’re a true White-Bone Demon!” you explained as you preyed upon her like a young animal. 

Without further ado, she opened herself up with her fingers to let you pluck the innermost strings of her femininity right at the rhapsodic moment. 

“More, and deeper please!”

This time, you were able to inject all your intensities of love into her body just when she began to tremble, much like a real musical instrument resonating with the loud melody of your heart and soul.  

You knew that you didn’t reach her A-spot, but in an attempt to defense or excuse yourself, you pointed it out to Hua that every man is doomed to fail a woman sexually no matter how hard he tries, since his masculine power is never sustainable, while her feminine energy could be almost indefinite. Once a man gives out what he has, he could do nothing more than lying down aside, all spent, sheepish or sleepyish, while a woman could receive more, and more -- as recorded in the Guinness Book, a polish woman received more than nine hundred masculine shots in a consecutive way. For a man, to give might mean to conquer and dominate but only temporarily and nominally, whereas for a woman, to receive is to assimilate and win essentially and eventually. In this fleshly battle between the two sexes, the man might appear to be the aggressive predator or conqueror, but is actually the poor loser in the end, while the woman looks like a passive prey, but turns out to be the ultimate victor, always indomitable.   

“How come you performed so well today? You can get an A plus,” Hua smiled, looking as satiated as a happy cat after a big rich meal.  

“Nah, just not too shabby,” you said, as you lay down beside her more for a good afterplay than for a restful sleep. With your fingers and lumps all twisted tightly, Hua asked you how you felt about her body as well as her performance. In particular, she was wondering if you enjoyed it much better than on the previous night. “Most important, have you found what you really love me about, now that you know me inside out?”

But this question still remained quite a puzzle to you. Over the past couple of years, you had been trying constantly and consciously to find why you were so smitten with Hua. To you, she was actually not as well educated as Yiming or Helen, nor was she even so good-looking than they, but she was most attractive. How come she seemed to have cast a love spell on you? 

  “To answer this question, I’ve even written and published several short stories in English, all titled ‘Emotional Curiosity,’” you answered. 

  “I know that, but what did you write?” Hua asked. “Walk me through one in Chinese.”

After doing some research on your iPad, you found the one which was to be twice nominated for the 2023 Pushcart Prize, but instead of going through the whole story, you just showed it to her page by page as an example demonstrating how you had tried, by employing various socio-psychological theories, to solve this personal myth in terms of the first-love complex, the love-at-first-sight complex, the hometown complex, the mother complex, the zhiqing complex, the zhizuoduoqing [the tendency to overestimate one’s importance in a relationship] and/or the retirement complex. 

However, despite all the thinking and literary work you had done, you failed to grasp the essence of the matter. The best answer you had come up with was a mysterious combination of all her outer features and inner qualities. In other words, you were still unsatisfied with your answer, which was, in Hua’s words, “hands down too vague, too general or too far-fetched.”  

Now, after a longer and deeper than ever communion and intercourse, with the fullest and most updated knowledge about her body and heart, you felt you were in a good position to attempt a more definite answer. So, you told Hua that she was a perfect ten, as ravishing as any milf. Though on the wrong side of sixty, her body was still full of elasticity and radiance, her skin was firmer, fairer and sleeker than that of any other woman of her age you had ever seen in both East and West, without a single wrinkle visible on her face, neck or shoulders. Unlike your wife whose chest and belly looked like a starry sky full of angel kisses, Hua’ body was immaculate, free of any spots, except one birthmark close to her right crotch. Not only did she have a great curve, but there was a unique charm in her facial expression, which showed wonder, interest or encouragement. At the same time, she had a high emotional quotient. While she seemed always ready to understand you, her voice, speech acts and body language were all soothing and pleasant to you. Her laughter was as captivating to your ears as her smile to your eyes, which you always enjoyed watching, like a summer flower blooming brilliantly from inside her heart. In point of fact, she was the only human being with whom you felt perfectly at ease, to whom you could say or do anything, or just nothing; and, more often than not, when you chatted with her, she was inspiring enough to help you gain a deeper and clearer understanding of things and people you were interested in. Through her instrumentation, you have come to “know thyself” better than ever before. Tonight, you had just found that she also had an exceptionally high “sexual functionality” if you could use the term. While Helen and Yiming both became so dry after menopause as to have lost all their interest in, as well as their capacity for, sex by the time they turned fifty, presumably like all other women of their age, Hua remained just as active, sensitive, and capable of experiencing orgasms as a young woman. She had never heard of any personal lubricant like KV Jerry, since she was able to produce profuse natural moisture for sex, though her periods had stopped more than fifteen years before. 

“So, you’re really a stunner to me,” you told her conclusively. 

“Don’t make fun with a crone!” she said. “I was no beauty even in my best years!”

“Don’t be so self-deprecating! I think I’ve really deciphered your spell on me!”

“But I’m not a witch, never can I cast a spell!”

To explain how you found the ultimate truth about your hopeless obsession with her, you said, “Bear with me if I repeat myself here and there, but…”

“Just go on. Old as we are now, neither of us has such a clear memory as before anyway,” Hua said. 

  So, you continued, “you really got a killer expression on the lower part of your open face, which shows a perfect ratio among different components.” You meant it was mainly her mouth as in the case of Mona Lisa. Unlike de Vinci’s model, Hua had a mouth a bit smaller than the average, which fell exactly to the category of female beauty in terms of classic Chinese aesthetics. The thickness of her lips was perfectly right: if they had been just one micrometer thicker, they would have made her look silly; if just one micrometer thinner, they would have made her look mean. In her most natural state, she had a perpetual semi-smile, in which you could perceive something close to coquettishness, a bit attitudinal mixture between anger and defiance, an emotional undertone of interestedness or encouragement, as well as a slight trace of urchin-like mischievousness. It was primarily this natural expression, coupled with her good looks, shapely figure, cheerful personality, high E.Q. and S. Q. that had rendered her such a unique beauty in your eyes. 

“That’s to say, I’m the only man in this entire world who’s able not only to discover, but to appreciate, all your beautiful characteristics as a woman. Don’t you agree?”

“Umm, I’ll give you that. You’re indeed much more appreciative of me as a woman than any other man, including Ping of course. But just as people often say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder only!”

“A beholder with a pair of x-ray eyes as well as a poetic heart, though! Apart from that, my love for you is also purer than his!”

“In which sense?” 

“When you had me at hello, my feeling was typically a teenage boy’s most natural reaction toward a pretty teenage girl. The concept of “marriage” and all other worldly considerations were still far outside the picture. When I became besotted with you again after decades of separation, my affection for you had absolutely nothing to do with anything non-emotional, such as marriage, money, identity or any other social or materialistic elements…”

“So, you’re saying that people’s feelings are not pure when they date for the purpose of marriage?”

  “You got it! That’s why I always say pure love is God-given, while marriage is human-sought.

“You said a mouthful! Pure love is rare because it’s a karma thing, while marriage is common as a result of people’s deliberations.”

  “That’s the major reason I often feel sorry for both Ping and myself!”


“You see, for the past forty years he’s been fucking you without really knowing how to appreciate your beauty. I know how to do so in every sense but without being able to fuck you in our salad years!”

“Bite your tongue! With my body and heart both in your hands, aren’t you happy now?”

“Yes, happy love, happy life! I should really thank God, thank your parents, and thank you!”

“For what?”

“For the rare opportunity to make my soul complete!”   

"Author's note: This story is an excerpt from The Tuner, a novel sequel to my duology Mabakoola: Paradise Regained, which is due out soon via an LA-based press." 

Bio :: 

Yuan Changming edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver. Credits include 12 Pushcart nominations for poetry and 2 for fiction besides appearances in Best of the Best Canadian Poetry (2008-17), BestNewPoemsOnline and 2079 other publications across 51 countries. A poetry judge for Canada's 44th National Magazine Awards, Yuan began writing and publishing fiction in 2022.


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